The revelation of a cheating partner is traumatic. It’s shocking, painful, hurtful and makes you angry and all those emotions tend to come at the same time. There are a million decisions to make and you feel it all needs to be done now.
There is a process for responding to a cheating partner that can bring more clarity to this time. Understanding your priorities and following through each step can keep you on track for dealing with it.
Below are 12 steps to properly respond once you find out:
- Make sure you are physically safe. These situations can end up like a Jerry Springer episode and can be full of emotion. Make sure you aren’t in danger from the third party as well as your partner. Decide if you can stay in your residence with your partner there. If not, you make tell them to leave for the night or you may need to go stay with family, a friend or rent a hotel room for the night.
- Allow your emotions to flow. You need to cry, scream or punch a pillow. It is important to feel emotions, according to licensed clinical psychologist Piper S. Grant. She said to let yourself have that ugly cry.
- Don’t do anything for 24 hours. You are in too much of an emotional state to make big decisions. While you may feel like you need to fix the problem with major life changes, you really don’t. It won’t hurt anyone to wait 24 hours before deciding anything.
- Avoid social media. This isn’t the type of thing to vent about. For one, if you talk about how much you hate the other person, your friends won’t understand if you take them back. If you post things to make your significant other think you don’t care or to make them jealous, it complicates the situation and adds drama. You don’t need drama.
- Talk to trusted friends. There needs to be one or two people you can talk to to release your feelings and get some sound advice. Pick people who will do more listening than talking. You don’t want friends that jump to your rescue. That can confuse you because it unloads all your options on you and makes you feel guilty for not immediately allowing them to help.
- Don’t try to get back at your partner. Yes, there are songs that dwell joyfully on the idea of ripping seats and keying cars, but those are fantasies. Also, don’t seek revenge sex. Some people react by having a casual encounter or tracking down an old flame. That doesn’t help your situation and really isn’t fair to the other person because you are just using them.
- Accept the situation. Many people want to deny it or avoid it. This is a situation that can’t be ignored. You must confront it with your partner immediately.
- Seek to understand how the affair occurred. This can be difficult because you may have some assumptions and will not want to hear the specific details. However, you need to know what led to it. This helps you gain understanding, according to sex and relationship expert Bethany Ricciardi. Gaining understanding is important to decide on your options and help you move on.
- Realize it isn’t your fault. Some partners caught in cheating try to shift blame to you. That is wrong because they aren’t accepting responsibility for their actions. It isn’t your fault. They made the decision to cheat. Lori Bizzoco, a relationship expert and Cupid’s Pulse founder, said your partner had a commitment to you and should have kept that commitment no matter what the situation was. You can’t feel responsible for their cheating.
- Re-evaluate your relationship. You need to take a breath, give it some distance and look at it objectively. You will need to decide if this is something you can, and are willing to forgive. If so, you will need to talk to them about how to get past it and move forward. If it is a deal breaker, you will need to make plans to move on alone.
- Evaluate options. There are two paths. You can stay or go. You will need to make plans for either option in order to bring some control and peace to your life. A cheating partner causes your world to spin and you feel completely out of control. You need some order and writing out your plans for either decision will bring you some insight and help you cope.
- Take care of yourself. When something like this happens, some people plunge into unhealthy habits. They go to bars, drink too much, binge eat on junk food, or stay in bed for days. While some of that may be normal to release frustration or grieve, it should be short lived because it is bad for you. Emotions and stress take a physical toll on you. Excesses can cloud your thinking and make you express emotions in destructive ways. Take time to eat well, sleep normally and maintain a healthy, normal schedule.
This process is painful, but implementing sound advice will help you heal and move on in your life no matter what lies ahead in the future.